Socially Conscious Design – The New Narrative

Taking up design as a career choice is a daunting task. Regardless of how creative you may consider yourself to be, the reality is that the industry is filled with so much talent that isn’t necessarily absorbed by your traditional agencies.

The socio-economic realities of our times drive most young designers to seek work rather than create it for themselves. But there’s a new generation of creatives, an army of visual storytellers that use their immediate surroundings and life experiences to market their skills, primarily using exhibition spaces and online spaces like Instagram, Behance and Facebook.

If you ask me about current trends, I’d have to put myself in the shoes of so many of my peers, but here are few.

Ruramai Musekiwa - Sibahle

Ruramai Mesikiwa – Her Sibahle campaign is a celebration of our individuality and African beauty through a poster series and the overarching message is one of self-love.  This project is an extension of her perspective, a view from a (relatively) young African woman’s vantage point.

Rendani Nemakhavani - 30 Days and a City

Rendani Nemakhavani – 30 Days and a City is a collaborative multi-medium urban art project, curated by Rendani “Missblacdropp” Nemakhavhani in collaboration with Studio-X Johannesburg. This exhibition consists of a series of artists who were asked to document the city as they see it. Thus, it presents emerging representations of Johannesburg that challenge dystopian representations of everyday life in Johannesburg. Her work is a reflection of how she experiences Jozi and her illustrations reference things like hairstyles, phrases she’s heard, the mini-bus taxi lifestyle and street names.


David Tshabalala – Run The World. During Womens Month, I illustrated 31 Women, 1 illustration per day, over the course of the entire month of August. These are a combination of women I’ve met and they’ve left me inspired after our conversations about projects that they are busy with. I follow them closely on digital platforms and I feed off their energy through their respective blogs and I enjoy the content they share and create. The project was birthed to exist exclusively on Instagram, honouring young women who carry a beacon of inspiration in their respective walks of life. Bringing the campaign to the public space by means of exhibition serves to physically share in the glory of the women profiled as well as paying homage to them.

Modise Sepeng - I Beg To Differ

Modise Sepeng -Founded by graphic designer, art director and founder of Negritude Republic Modise BlackDice Sepeng and Creative director of Kala/Mine Productions, Banele P. Mtebele. “I Beg to differ” is a digital documentary that profiles extraordinary African creatives who are influential, inspirational, determined & persevere to live their dreams despite all the odds against them.


Myself, Rendani Nemakhavani, Ruramai Musekiwa, Modise Blackdice and so many more are using our passions and crafts to do self-driven work that affects the human spirit in one way or another. The trend right now is to “Create for myself and tell stories” like we’re doing right now


Yes, profit is essential from a commercial design perspective but the modern designer/artist, like the ones I’ve mentioned, create from the heart and uses the work that stems from this ethos as a marketing tool to get more clients. This is the trend right now – Socially-conscious design.

Author: Represent

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